Evaluating the Haiti response: meeting hosted by ALNAP, UNEG and OECD DAC
On 12 January at 4.53 p.m. local time, the strongest earthquake in more than 200 years, measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale, rocked the impoverished Caribbean nation of Haiti. As of one month later, on 11 February, the Government was reporting that 217,000 had died as a direct result of the earthquake. The number of injured was estimated at more than 300,000 people. More than 1.2 million people were in spontaneous settlements and 467,701 people had left Port-au-Prince for outlying departments. According to the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator as of 2 February, humanitarian relief operations will continue for many months to come.
Following this tragedy, a number of evaluative efforts have been initiated by donors such as the DEC and Canadian Humanitarian Coalition, as well as by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) which has agreed to carry out an inter-agency real-time evaluation (IA RTE).
Details of these efforts and those of individual humanitarian agencies operating in Haiti are being logged on the Haiti Learning and Accountability portal.
Haiti Evaluation Taskforce
Following the joint meeting held in London, May 2010 (outlined below) a Haiti Evaluation Taskforce was convened.
As part of the work of the Task Force, a Context Analysis of the Haiti response was published in July 2010. This paper aims to provide some useful contextual background for those involved in evaluation and other operational work in Haiti.
Following discussions at the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) Network on Development Evaluation meeting in Paris in February 2010, a suggestion was made that OECD DAC Evaluation Network, UNEG and ALNAP host a meeting to bring together the key players involved in on-going and planned evaluation efforts to avoid the risk that the international evaluative effort would suffer from lack of co-ordination and too many evaluators would descend on Haiti with duplicated and overlapping objectives.
The meeting was held in London and attended by representatives of over fifty international NGOs, donors, UN agencies, the Red Cross/ Red Crescent movement and humanitarian networks.
The Full Meeting report is available here, with a brief summary below.
Day One of the meeting established a shared understanding of the context in Haiti. A message from the Haitian Government opened the meeting, reflecting the determination from the outset to bring Haitian voices to the forefront of the discussions. Speakers on the first morning included Tatiana Wah, senior advisor to the Haiti Government and Ross Mountain, Executive Director of DARA, who was deployed to Haiti within days of the earthquake. Both opening speakers were able to bring unique insights into current situation in Haiti and the challenges that lie ahead.
The operational context for aid agencies was illustrated with a presentation of the initial findings of the Inter Agency Real Time Evaluation. This included a short film that aimed to give a voice to the affected populations in Haiti. Representatives of NGOs such as Christian Aid, donors, UN agencies and the Red Cross movement also presented their experiences of operating in Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake.
Day Two focused on evaluating the response, and in particular, the need for a more strategic approach to collaboration in the ongoing efforts. Michael Quinn Patton, a world-leading expert on evaluation and organisational development asked the delegates to consider where they could realistically bring their agencies to in ‘working together in evaluating their response to the Haiti disaster’ and the majority of respondents concluded ‘Collaboration’ was possible. Michael went on to consider the key issues in a collaborative approach to evaluation. Susanne Frueh, former chair of the Tsunami Evaluation Coalition, and Niels Dabelstein, Head of Secretariat for the Evaluation of the Paris Declaration, outlined what could be learnt from previous system-wide evaluative efforts.
Brainstorming workshops and a final panel considered a number of key questions for improving system-wide evaluation collaboration in Haiti and proposed some suggestions for a way forward.
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